Friday, 30 March 2012

Why Fibre Is Crucial In the Diet

Fibre has lots of beneficial effects on the body, which includes helping to regulate the amount of fat and sugar in the blood. There are two types of fibre, as follows: not water soluble; and water soluble.
The insoluble type of fibre is found in whole grain wheat, rye, brown rice, cherries, grapes, pineapples, rhubarb, melons, prunes, berries, turnips, beets, tomatoes, all green vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts.  
The insoluble type of fibre provides the following health benefits: helps slow down the movement of foods from the stomach to the intestines; improves digestion and alleviates hunger pangs; helps reduce cholesterol by eliminating any excess; helps prevent gallstones; and helps prevent constipation.
The soluble type of fibre is found in oat bran, oatmeal, barley, apples and citrus fruits. The soluble type of fibre provides  the following health benefits: it makes you full more quickly, so you eat less; it slows down the absorption of fats and sugars into the small intestine, thereby regularizing metabolism and reducing the amount of insulin secreted by your body.
The possible effects of a fibre deficiency can result in health problems, as follows: obesity; type 2 diabetes; appendicitis; cancer of the colon and rectum; constipation; haemorrhoids; heart problems; and bladder problems.  
The recommended intake of fibre is 30- 40 grams per day. One possible consequence of an excess of fibre is decalcification. If you eat a lot of foods high in fibre, increase your intake of dairy products to avoid such a reaction.
The following table shows the fibre content in grams per 100 grams of different foods:
Dried Apricots: 24
Whole cereals: 11
Lentils: 4
Pears: 3
Cabbage: 4.6
Leaks: 3.3
Artichokes: 4.2
Cooked spinach: 5
Hazelnuts: 9
Apples: 2.5
Bananas: 2
Dried figs: 18.3
Olives: 6.3
Potatoes: 1
Broccoli: 4.3
Rasberries: 7.4
Oranges: 2.9
Prunes: 16
Peanuts: 7.5
Gooseberries: 6.8
Wholemeal bread: 6.5
Raisins/sultanas : 6.5
Carrots: 3.4
Red beans: 3.5
Peaches: 2.3
Brown rice: 4.5
Celery: 6
Dried beans: 4.5
Peas: 5.3
Rye: 44
If you cannot achieve your daily requirement of fibre from food sources, then there is a need to supplement with fibre capsules in order to achieve a balanced diet. Psyllium husks, which are readily available for purchase from health food shops, are an adequate choice in this regard. If you are getting some fibre from food sources but not enough, then you will have to do a calculation on the amount of supplementation that is required in order to make up the deficit.
I hope the British spelling of fibre used in this post hasn’t in any way interfered with  my American visitors' understanding of the points made.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sunshine Is Good for Your Health

We are now in springtime in the northern hemisphere, and over the next six months or so there is likely to be a lot of sunshine. One of the most constructive things you can do from a health point of view, is expose your body to the healing power of the sun.
The action of direct sunlight on the skin is the main provider of vitamin D because there are not many food sources of it. The only known food sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, oily fish such as sardines, salmon, herring and mackerel. Eggs and milk contain only small amounts, although milk fortified with vitamin D can be purchased. 
A synthetic version of vitamin D can be obtained if you take a multivitamin and mineral tablet daily, but it is only likely to provide you with 40% of your recommended daily requirement of a 1,000 IU (international units). However, in addition you could take a vitamin D supplement separately on its own to make up for the deficit.
A vitamin D deficiency can cause osteoporosis, rickets and schizophrenia.  It is crucial in forming strong bones and teeth. A deficiency can also: exacerbate type 2 diabetes by impairing insulin production in the pancreas; and negatively   affect calcium absorption by the body.
One of the world’s leading experts on sunshine and vitamin D, Dr Michael Holick, from studies carried out has concluded that a sufficiency of vitamin D in the body helps prevent prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, depression and schizophrenia.
Women who are deficient in vitamin D at the birth of a child, can put the child’s health at risk of developing such diseases as type1 diabetes early in life. Where this is a known problem, supplementation is recommended for the child from an early age.
Dr Holick recommends sensible sun exposure. If you live in the northern hemisphere and are of Caucasian origin, this may typically mean exposure to direct sunlight for 5 -10 minutes daily, 3 times or more weekly exposing head, neck, arms and legs to the sun. Persons of African origin, however, need about 10 times the above stated amount because of the skin pigmentation providing a natural resistance to the sun.  
Only sunshine directly on the skin triggers the production of vitamin D.  Therefore sunshine absorbed through glass does not count for this purpose. If, for example, you work in a greenhouse you would need to take in sunshine away from where you work in order to get your daily requirement.
The sunscreen industry have been emphasising the harmful effects of the sun for years in order to sell their products. The healing effects the sun’s rays have on the body never get mentioned in their literature. Consequently, some people apply a sunscreen before venturing out into the sun, which is a mistake as some products can block as much as 95% of the sun’s rays. It is much better to get your daily requirement of sunshine as outlined above first, and then apply a sunscreen for the duration of the time you are exposed.
Use the summer months to keep the vitamin D level in the body, which acts like a tank in this regard, at a high level. During the winter months when the sun isn’t shining, seriously consider taking  a vitamin D supplement or cod liver oil capsules to avoid any deficiency.
If the pharmaceuticals could bottle sunshine, they would, then sing its praises and sell it at a hefty price per bottle. Because it is free resource, not many people point out its beneficial effects. Do not underestimate the healing power of the sun. !

Friday, 16 March 2012

Why One Person's Ordeal Is Significant

One of the most harrowing tales that I've heard of in relation to a health problem concerns a now elderly lady from a small town in Florida, USA. Her name is Margie Garrison, and her picture is on the left.

When she was still just a teenager, Margie Garrison was suffering from pains in her joints and went to her local doctor to see what the problem was. After a series of examinations and consultations, she was diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis. She was told that there was no known cure for arthritis but was prescribed drugs to relieve the pain. She took the drugs which gave her some temporary relief from the pain but had some unpleasant side effects. After a few years with the same doctor, she decided to change to another in the same locality.

The second doctor on examining her, agreed with the diagnosis made by the first doctor, told her there was not known cure for arthritis and prescribed further drugs to relieve the pain. After a few years with the second doctor during which time her condition had not improved as she was still in pain daily, Margie concluded that he was no better than the first and again changed her medical adviser.

Over the next 30 years or so, she changed her doctor several more times. Most of them repeated to her that there was no known cure for arthritis and typically told her: " go home and learn to live with it is a prescription for some drugs to relieve the pain". One of them put her through gold therapy which did nothing to improve her condition. By the year 1979, she had suffered from arthritis for more than 40 years and had seen 13 doctors or specialists about her condition. By this time, she had spent thousands of dollars on doctor's bills and medications that did not work.

She then heard of a doctor called Jack Goldstein, who was reputed to be different from the others in that he put the emphasis on homeopathic remedies and natural cures for health problems. On her first meeting with him, Margie could hardly believe her ears when she heard him say "arthritis is the easiest disease to cure". She was sceptical at first but decided to implement whatever he said. Dr Goldstein advised her to do the following: follow a natural treatment without drugs or side effects; adhere to a strict diet involving foods and drinks that were good for her condition; do some daily exercises; and engage in positive thinking about her condition.

 After a few days of this new approach, she felt better; after a few weeks, she felt much better and could now engage in activities that she could not touch beforehand; and after about 3 months, she was completely cured of the condition that had afflicted her for more than 40 years.

Margie was now enjoying a pain- free life for the first time since she was a young girl.  When she heard that the US Arthritis Foundation were holding a convention at a nearby hotel, she decided that she would go there and speak to let the people attending know that their arthritis could be cured by natural means without the use of prescribed drugs. When the organisers of the convention heard what she was proposing to say, they decided they would not let her speak and marched her out of the convention using security personnel.

On her next visit to Dr Jack Goldstein, Margie told him about what happened at the convention and he expressed no surprise at all saying the suppression of information was endemic in the US health service. He had earlier cured his own colitis by natural means but was shunned by his peers when he tried to publicise this fact at a medical gathering.

Margie Garrison today is known in her local community and on the internet as " The Arthritis Lady ". She now runs a website advising people on natural cures for arthritis which can be accessed by anybody. She has written an e-book on arthritis from her own experiences, which costs less than $20 to buy and is available online for immediate download.

Her story reveals what goes on in the American health service in the following ways: doctors place too much emphasis on drugs to treat health problems as a first option;  doctors, specialists, chemists and pharmaceuticals all make a lot of money out of their patients' suffering; disease associations and foundations cannot be relied upon to tell their members the truth as they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo; the whole medical establishment is skewed away from natural cures for health problems towards prescription drugs and conventional treatments.

I hope you will agree with me that the Margie Garrison story was worth telling because of the light it has shone on a biased and corrupt system of delivering healthcare to patients in the world's leading nation. However, the lessons to be learned from it do have worldwide implications.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Is the Time Right for a Tax On Sugar ?

In the UK, where I live, all the debate relating to health issues is now on the Health and Social Care Bill 2011, which is currently before Parliament. The Bill, as I understand it, only relates to how the NHS (National Health Service) is administered. While trying to improve accountability and achieve savings in the NHS’s budget are laudable objectives, the main reasons why people are getting sick in the first instance are not being debated at all. 

One of those reasons clearly is the amount of sugar in the diet. Various studies carried out now provide sufficient evidence to establish a link between sugar intake and health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, arthritis, asthma and heart disease. There is also strong evidence that sugar supresses the immune system and disturbs the mineral balance in the body. The author, Nancy Appleton, in her book titled “Lick The Sugar Habit“ and on her website, lists no less than 146 reasons why sugar is detrimental to health. She has relied upon publications by various eminent people and institutions in the field of health in reaching her conclusions.

It is added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring ones that need to be targeted as a health hazard. In recent years sugar, or sugar substitutes, have been added to most processed foods and to all soft drinks making it almost impossible to avoid when shopping. Dr Lustig of the University of California in the daily battle to avoid sugar in all its different forms advises:”learn to be a food label expert”. Look for ingredient descriptions on packaging that contain the words like: “sugar, corn syrup, honey, dextrose, fructose, sucrose or aspartame”.  

Governments across the world over the past 40 years have been very successful in discouraging people from smoking by doing the following: taxing the price of a packet of cigarettes to the hilt; banning the advertising of tobacco products; putting a health warning on packaging; and making it illegal to smoke in certain places to which the general public have access. Most health authorities have now acknowledged that these combined measures have significantly reduced the number of smoking related health problems and deaths.

Would anything similar to those tactics used for tobacco products work for sugar?  Although sugar in all its forms is more difficult to define, there is no reason why a tax on it could not be passed on to the consumer at the point of purchase, thereby contributing positively to the health of the nation whist increasing tax revenues at the same time. In addition to being listed in the ingredients list, a clear warning could be put on packaging as to the danger of man-made added sugars to conform to the most recent findings by medical experts on the subject.

If a tax on sugar is proposed, you can expect strong resistance to it from sugar, food and soft drinks companies .The pharmaceuticals are unlikely to remain in the neutral corner either as a healthier nation is hardly in their best interests.  It could be unwise to underestimate the combined lobbying influence that lot have in the corridors of power !  

Friday, 2 March 2012

All Prescribed Drugs Have Side Effects

Whenever a synthetic substance is introduced into the body there is a reaction. Prescribed drugs are synthetic substances –that is they are man- made and not naturally occurring. Sometimes the body’s reaction to such a substance is severe at the outset; at other times the initial reaction may be mild but the cumulative effect over time is significant. Most prescribed drugs fall into the latter category.

 A side effect is an unintended occurrence that results from taking a drug. The pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these drugs either deliberately downplay the side effects, or carefully manage the information pertaining to their concoctions so as not to alarm the public. They only usually get found out in their manipulation of the information when a significant number of patients make a complaint about a specific drug.

In 2004, Merck were forced to take their arthritis drug, Vioxx, from the market when it became obvious that a significant number of patients were likely to develop cardiovascular problems if they continued taking the drug. In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline took their Avandia drug for diabetes from the market when it was found to significantly increase the risk of heart attack. Both of these drugs at the time of their removal were on general release having passed all clinical trials.

Some drugs do not get enough complaints to merit their removal from the market but nonetheless have serious side effects. Here is a list of the most serious of these as they have an impact on the body: affecting the blood causing dizziness, high blood pressure or heart attack; affecting the brain causing amnesia, speech disorder or stroke; affecting the bowels causing abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea; affecting vital organs involving hepatitis, kidney or liver failure; affecting the lungs causing  colds, flu or sore throat; affecting the mental state causing aggression, depression or confusion;  affecting the senses causing tingling sensations, ringing in the ears or vision problems; affecting the skin causing itching, skin rash or sweating.

The possible consequences of taking prescrption drugs are such that every opportunity should be taken to avoid them if at all possible. Doctors should only use them in treating a patient for a complaint as a last resort instead of as a first option.